A Cautious look at MMOs in 2013

The beginning of a new year is a good opportunity to look back at a year full of games, posts and arguments – or alternatively, to look forward and muse on things to come. I feel like doing both, but today my avantgarde self has won the upper hand. What is it I am looking forward to about the future of MMOs in 2013?

PC Gamer have published a rather great and lengthy 2013 videogame preview, going by the bold title of “The best PC games of 2013“. Every genre has its dedicated section, so it’s not just an interesting sneakpeek overall but a recommendable read for anybody (of course it’s page 5, 9 and 3 where it’s really at!).

Sooo…newbie MMOs. Dare I even pick three of you from the crowd?

My horses in the 2013 races

1. The Elder Scrolls Online

While I dislike the idea of a “Skyrim MMO” with classes, restricted skill paths and formulaic MMO style combat as much as the next person, the truth is I am going to play ES Online no matter what. I cannot not look into this franchise taking an online dip! If they get the world right, the feeling of scale, atmosphere and adventure, then it will still hold enough interest for this explorer here (and then I haven’t experienced outdoor dungeons in a long, long time). To claim that some of the already confirmed disappointments are enough to keep me from wandering a polished Tamriel is to kid myself. And then there’s of course always the unquenchable hope that things might even turn out that bit better than expected. We never learn.

2. Wildstar

I have as many strong reasons not to want to try Wildstar as the other way around. That makes it a balanced pick, I guess. The comic style of the game screams WoW, there’s the holy trinity I am not too keen on (hah) and the self-proclaimed “friends & family” label. I don’t expect Wildstar to be daring in any way or attract my kind of community (or age range). Still, of all MMOs announced for 2013, Wildstar is the one title promising package and polish more than any other. Things have looked great in that department for a long time now and Carbine is ever eager on getting player feedback on twitter. Then, there’s the unquestionably brilliant housing system, the Bartle inspired questing mode and a quirky attempt at spicing up an otherwise classic combat. Hmm.

3. EQ Next versus Neverwinter

I’ve considerable misgivings concerning both these games which is why they share third spot for 2013. As much as I want to go more oldschool or niche, both EQ Next and Neverwinter have me tap my fingers nervously on the keyboard. As if expectations towards EQ’s “true successor” weren’t big enough, with obscure rumors circling back and forth for years, SOE’s president had nothing better to do than proclaim this title “the largest sandbox MMO ever designed” – when all we’ve basically seen so far is that one same green image. Yeah, that one…So for now, all I know is that SOE aren’t short for words and we’ll see about the sand. If it even comes out!
Neverwinter on the other hand, great as diving back into the Forgotten Realms may be, manages to both intrigue and scare with smaller but no less bold words: content creation tool and player created questlines. A lot of potential. A great many potential outcomes!

Unless something most unexpected comes along this year, that’s probably it for me in terms of new MMO dabbles. I can’t say that I am super excited about any of my picks but that’s what I’d roll with to satisfy the curiosity. I am obviously a somewhat restrictive player when it comes to non-fantasy settings or panties – truth be told though, I feel so content playing LOTRO at the moment while also far from done with GW2, that between playing older MMOs and a full Steam library I’m completely okay with 2013 making no grand attempts at the genre. I feel a little tired with the speed of MMO releases every year; I’d like to play less games but play them longer. And from that point of view I place my trust in Middle-Earth and Tyria, while a return to Telara is certainly not unthinkable.

Yep, I think I’ll be just fine.

P.S. I would of course love to hear what other people’s picks are from the PC Gamer overview!

17 comments

  1. We go over the PC Gamer list on tomorrow’s podcast (plug plug :) ) but I think the only MMO I’m even kinda looking forward to in 2013 is.. Everquest Next. And yes, I feel weird just typing that.

    I’ve never been much for the Elder Scrolls games, and while Wildstar looks neat I wouldn’t quit RIFT (another WoW-like) for it. IF EQNext lives up to the sandbox promise … well, I’d give it a shot, anyway.

    2012 was so crazy for MMO releases and expansions, I think 2013 is going to be pretty mellow for most players!

    1. Yep, release fatigue is officially a thing after 2012.
      and I think John Smedley has already made sure that EQ Next can never live up to its (his) promise – but hey, it might still be good for a few surprises. whenever it comes out.

  2. Wildstar: no way I am going to play this. Unless I am bored to tears by other games around the time the game goes life.

    ESO: no way. I am done with Elder Scroll games unless they move away from their console style controls. I imagine a FF XIV style UI disaster. I just can’t deal with a console. #myageshowsdonttellanyone. Besides, I have my doubts it will go live or even into beta in 2013.

    Neverwinter: Must play. No question.

    EQ Next: Similar. I started my MMO life with Everquest and I see no reason not to play EQ Next. However, I have my doubts if we will see it this year.

    1. It’s a fair point about the UI and controls. that has been Skyrim’s one big failing in my eyes. I liked the combat actually but the menu controls are obscene, hehe! :D and yet it is the most wonderful RPG I ever played.

      what is it that makes NW such a clear pick for you? I hear this from various sources but nobody explains why. I somehow doubt it’s the quest creation (too many players are way too lazy for that sort of thing).

    2. Heheh, it’s a good thing that they are to lazy to create content. It keeps new content limited. As for the why? Purely the comparison with the Neverwinter Nights games.

  3. I’m at a bit of a loss as to why EQNext is coming up in commentary about MMOs for 2013. I wasn’t expecting to see it until 2015 even before they scrapped the entire game they’d done (twice). Now I don’t expect to see it before 2016 or even later.

    I played Daggerfall and Morrowind and disliked them both. Never played Oblivion or Skyrim. Therefore, no big interest for me in that one. I might try it in Open Beta or if it is F2P – not even been paying enough attention to know the proposed payment model – but chances are I won’t bother.

    WildStar I am keen to try but I don’t expect to see it launch in 2013. It might reach beta but I wouldn’t count on that, even.

    Neverwinter should come out this year but again I would hardly be surprised if it doesn’t. I do intend to play it, mostly for the creative toolset they are promising.

    Other than that, I will be all over City of Steam when it gets to any stage (Open Beta, Launch) that gives me a permanent character. I also applied for the FFXIV Reborn Beta – I had high hopes of the first version, which came to nothing, but here’s hoping hey get it right this time round. I did have my eye on Otherland but I’ve kind of lost interest.

    I also trust and expect that some MMO I’ve never heard of or paid no attention to so far will come out of left-field and catch my interest in a big way – that’s been happening at least once a year for about as long as I can remember.

    In the meantime I have far more on my MMO plate than I can handle already, so a quiet year would not be unwelcome.

    1. I agree it’s very unlikely we’ll see EQ Next this year, but then am not sure where PC Gamer got their sources from.
      I knew you were gonna try WS :) it’s the housing system, right? that IS awesome. and of course I will also look into FFXIV as already proclaimed. I guess it wasn’t featured because it’s basically a re-launch…still a bit poor they left it out though.

  4. To be honest, I’m happy enough with the MMOs we’ve got at the moment and none of the up and comers are really exciting me.

    Elder Scrolls… looking to be a generic fantasy MMO using the Elder Scrolls name and setting (and to be honest, that’s just another generic fantasyland). Might be a decent enough generic fantasy MMO in the same vein as Rift, and I’ll probably check it out at some point if that’s the case.

    Wildstar seems to be the new hotness and Internet craze solely because people needed something to glom on to as their “I’m leaving [insert launched game] for [latest thing that isn’t even in beta yet]”. Nothing leaping out and grabbing me here.

    EQ Next is again vaguely interesting, but I suspect Mr Smedley’s idea of “sandbox MMO” won’t be exactly what a lot of bloggers and forumites think of when they think in their confused way about the subject. I’m not expecting SOE to put out a classless, level-less FFA gank-fest and this one is going to generate an enormous storm of internet angst when concrete details do emerge.

    Neverwinter… more generic fantasy, and I’ve never rated the Forgotten Realms as a quality fantasyland setting. Seeing what players actually do with content creation tools built into the bedrock of a game will be interesting to observe, though… and interesting to see how many create content, how many create DECENT content, how many just consume the content, how many whine for more professionally-developed content instead and how many abuse the content creation tools in a quest for personal power.

    What I’m hoping to see is the announcement of a spiritual successor to DAoC, given the popularity of GW2’s WvW. A lot of people are reading something along those lines into the teaser video mention on Mark Jacobs’ blog: http://onlinegamesareanichemarket.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/happy-holidays/#comments but even if Mr DAoC doesn’t do such a game himself, ArenaNet have shown that there’s definitely a niche for a 3 way war with realm pride.

    1. “..and interesting to see how many create content, how many create DECENT content, how many just consume the content, how many whine for more professionally-developed content instead and how many abuse the content creation tools in a quest for personal power.”

      THAT. so true, hehe….it will be very telling what happens to NW. if they don’t blow it right away with something else, the game will tell us much about how ready today’s audience really is for showing initiative to create their own content. in meaningful ways. I’d rather not speculate for now.

      and I think you’re not alone in wishing for a return to DAoC. it’s a shame that ANet has not grasped some of the social essentials about realm battles and large scale PvP, because WvW would be a lot more.

    1. Then again there are so many ‘fallout style’ and zombie games all over those PC Gamer pages, I think you’ll find something else to amuse yourself with! :P think I also remember reading Stalker references here and there, although maybe not in the MMO section.

  5. “I am obviously a somewhat restrictive player when it comes to non-fantasy settings or panties” Am I the only confused by the word panties here? :)

    None of these titles really excites me, I’m happy with GW2 and TSW for now. Then again, I was deep into SWTOR this time last year, and only mildly interested in the distant release of GW2, with TSW barely on my radar. So who knows where I’ll be in terms of interests come July.

  6. I’m with you on the Elder Scrolls release. I was pretty down on it when it was first announced, but if the game matches up with developer talk (optimism!) then I should be pretty good.

    For Neverwinter, I don’t think you can overestimate the importance of the Foundry. Star Trek players have made some incredible missions with it so far, and from what I’ve heard the version in Neverwinter is much more fully featured. I think it might end up being the signature feature for the game.

  7. I got six pages into the PC Gamer list before I started agreeing with the commenter that said it reads like a list of any game that maybe has a chance of coming out in 2013. What’s frightening is that I saw quite a number I wouldn’t mind trying. Telltale Games’ take on Fables is one I didn’t know about till now.

    Not many MMOs though. City of Steam is about it. World of Darkness too, and maybe EQNext but I don’t believe either will come out by 2013.

    I haven’t looked much at Wildstar, the setting doesn’t personally appeal at first glance. I may give it a fair shot if there’s a free trial.

    I have rock bottom low to nil expectations of Elder Scrolls Online and Neverwinter. I think that’s the safest route for me, leaving the potential to be pleasantly surprised later on. If either comes out in 2013, I suspect they will do poorly due to lack of content and playtesting, it doesn’t seem like either has had enough development time yet.

    – Jeromai

  8. I have fallen head over heals for action MMO’s (such as Tera and RaiderZ) and I eagerly anticipate the arrival of TESO. I don’t see how Wildstar will catch on as there are so many other choices along the same lines. I was never into Everquest so I imagine it wont be my cup of tea. I do however have one game on my list that you are missing (I am currently alpha testing / beta testing) Defiance. While I don;t believe it will be some ground breaking new MMO or even that popular seeing as how the lore will be based on a television show that could easily be canceled before the game, but I can say this: It’s very fun!

    Great read as always Syl
    -Jeff mmosyn

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